Climate has been and will be an integral part of the dynamic earth system. The climate dynamics discipline addresses dynamical, physical, statistical and computational issues on time scales from seasons to millennia that are needed to quantify the behavior of the coupled system of atmosphere, oceans and earth surface, including biosphere and cryosphere (snow, sea ice and ice sheets).

Major Areas of Research:
The Jackson School also has nationally leading programs in computational geosciences, paleo-climate proxies, models of the dynamic processes of the cryosphere and lithosphere; planetary sciences, modern satellite, airborne, and in situ measurements of these components of the Earth system; and the Gulf Coast Carbon Center, one of the world's largest research groups testing the science of sequestration, also known as carbon capture and storage.

This program provides students with a strong background in core dynamical issues but encourages them to participate in interdisciplinary investigations across a wide range of climate-earth processes addressed by Jackson School scientists.

Faculty & Research Scientists

Todd  CaldwellTodd Caldwell
Dr. Caldwell is a hydrologist and geoscientist specializing in field investigations and numerical modeling associated with near-surface vadose zone hydrology, landscape evolution, and soil moisture/ET. His current research focuses on ecohydrology, soil moisture modeling and monitoring, restoration and characterization of disturbed lands, the characterization and scaling of soils and hydraulic parameters, near-surface geophysics, and parameter optimization and numerical methods.
Kerry H CookKerry H Cook
Climate dynamics, atmospheric dynamics, global climate change, paleoclimate, climate and weather of Africa and South America, climate system modeling, climate change in Texas
Jacob A CovaultJacob A Covault
sedimentology, stratigraphy, marine geology
Pedro Di Nezio
Robert E DickinsonRobert E Dickinson
Climate, Global Warming, Land Surface Processes, Remote Sensing, Hydrological Cycle, Carbon Cycle, and Modeling.
Rong  FuRong Fu
Convection, cloud and precipitation processes and their role in climate; Atmospheric transport in the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere; Atmosphere, ocean and land/vegetation interactions; Satellite remote sensing applications and retrievals;
Patrick Heimbach
ocean dynamics and its role in climate variability; Earth system modeling with emphasis on ocean, sea ice, and ice-ocean interactions; inverse modeling; state and parameter estimation; adjoint methods; algorithmic differentiation; uncertainty quantification
Charles S JacksonCharles S Jackson
global warming, abrupt climate change, sea level rise, ocean mixing, Bayesian Inference, inverse modeling, simulation, climate projections, uncertainty quantification
Joe LevyJoe Levy
Permafrost, Antarctica, Planetary geology, Mars, Geomorphology, Remote Sensing, GIS
Yuko M OkumuraYuko M Okumura
Climate dynamics, climate variability and change, large-scale ocean-atmosphere interactions, atmospheric teleconnections, paleoclimate and thermohaline circulation
Judson W PartinJudson W Partin
Paleoclimate, Stable and Radiogenic Isotope Geochemistry
Terrence M QuinnTerrence M Quinn
Paleoclimate, climate, climate change, climate dynamics, paleoclimatology, paleoceanography, sedimentary geology and geochemistry
Bridget R ScanlonBridget R Scanlon
Evaluation of the impact of climate variability and land use change on groundwater recharge, application of numerical models for simulating variably saturated flow and transport, controls on nitrate contamination in aquifers
Zong-Liang  YangZong-Liang Yang
Dr. Yang's primary research interest is to understand the exchanges of momentum, radiation, heat, water, carbon dioxide, and other materials between the atmosphere and the Earth surface spanning from small (short) to very large (long) scales. This includes analysis of in-situ and remotely-sensed data for the Earth's surface, and modeling studies of weather, climate and hydrology at local, regional and global scales.

Research Staff

Edward Edward "Ned" K Vizy
climate dynamics, atmospheric dynamics, climate change, extreme weather events, climate system modeling, hurricanes, paleoclimate, mesoscale modeling
Jiangfeng  WeiJiangfeng Wei
Land-atmosphere interactions, hydrology, water cycle

Graduate Students

Adam R BowermanAdam R Bowerman
Sudip Chakraborty
I use A-Train as well as ISCCP geostationary satellite data to unfold the mystery behind the convective transport of aerosols and the influence of those transported aerosols on those clouds. I use the software IDL to analyse the data. My primary research interests are: - Transport of Pollutants from the Lower Troposphere to Upper Troposphere and Lower Stratosphere. - Physical and Dynamic Structure of Deep Convection - Analysis of Satellite data (NASA A-Train, ISCCP) - ...
Yonghwan Kwon
Peirong  LinPeirong Lin
Weiran Liu
Gail MuldoonGail Muldoon
I am interested in better understanding uncertainty in climate predictions in order to reduce that uncertainty. My research explores the intersection of data and modeling efforts, in order to evaluate how uncertain models make use of uncertain data. My current projects focus on the contribution of ice sheets (Greenland and Antarctica) to rising sea level. I have been using the Community Earth System Model to evaluate the evolution of the Greenland ice sheet from pre-industrial ...
Michael T O'connorMichael T O'connor
I am most interested in the hydrologic and biogeochemical processes occurring at and near the surface of the Earth. I use field and laboratory techniques as well as numerical modeling to understand and represent these complex systems. My current research focuses on the variably saturated flow and nutrient transport dynamics of Arctic permafrost systems. I hope to use this work to help describe the mechanisms for terrestrial Arctic carbon export. I am also very interested ...
Sagar P ParajuliSagar P Parajuli
Dust, Aerosols, Climate Modeling, Climate Change, Sustainability, Civil Engineering
Eric I Petersen
Eric Petersen is a PhD student working on Martian lobate debris aprons (LDAs), strange landforms interpreted as massive debris-covered glacier systems. As remnants of past obliquity-driven glacial cycles on Mars, these features are valuable indicators of Amazonian palaeoclimate. Eric's work involves using SHARAD orbital radar sounding data in conjunction with ice flow modeling and geomorphic analysis to provide constraints on LDA formation and history. He is also interested in geophysical studies of debris-covered glaciers and ...
Natasha Sekhon
Paleoclimatology & Isotopic Geochemistry
Kaustubh ThirumalaiKaustubh Thirumalai
Research interests: Paleoclimate/Paleoceanography, Paleogeodesy, Foraminifera, Corals, Proxy Uncertainty My research involves the reconstruction of oceanographic parameters such as sea-surface temperature and salinity over the Holocene utilizing planktic foraminifera in marine sediment cores. Comprehensive observations of climatic fluctuations in the ocean and atmosphere have only been measured (with varying degrees of quality) for the last ~150 years, a mere geological instant. In order to understand the variability of climate over large timescales, driven by various forcing ...
Xian Wu
Kai  ZhangKai Zhang
For further details, please click Links and go to my homepage.

Courses offered by Jackson School of Geosciences

Graduate Courses

GEO 391: Climate Change: Current Lit - R. Dickinson
GEO 391: Land Atmosphere Interaction Dynamics - Z.-L. Yang
GEO 387H: Physical Climatology - Z.-L. Yang
GEO 387G/47G: Climate System Modeling - N. Vizy
GEO 391: Spatial pattern correlation and graphic presentation - R. Fu
GEO 391: Statistical Analysis in Geoscience Research - C. Jackson
GEO 391: Uncertainty quantification (available in spring 2015) - C. Jackson
GEO 387D: Climate Dynamics - K. Cook
GEO 371C/391: Climate Systems Discussion - R. Dickinson
GEO 371C/391: Climate System Physics - R. Fu
GEO 371C/391: Ecohydrology - K. Moffett
GEO 371C/391: Glacialogy - G. Catania
GEO 391: Introduction to the Cryosphere - G. Catania
GEO 391: Vadose Zone Hydrol. Arid Lands - M. Young
GEO 391: Paleoclimatology - T. Shanahan
Geo 371C/388G: Biogeochemical Cycles - T. Shanahan
GEO376S: Physical Hydrology - B. Cardenas
GEO 325K/383D: Computational Methods in Geological Sciences - C. Wilson
GEO 384R: Geophysical Time Series Analysis
GEO 384F: Computational Methods for Geophysics


GEO371C: Global Warming - K. Cook
GEO377P: Physical Climatology - Z.-L. Yang
UGS303: Sustaining a Planet - J. Banner
UGS 302: Science and Myths of the climate change - R. Fu
EVS311/GEO371C: Field Smnr, Evnir. Sci/ Sustnblty - J. Banner
GEO302C: Climate: Past, Present, Future - T. Shanahan
GEO388H/376E: Environmental Isotope Geochemistry - D. Breecker

Climate, hydrology and environmental related courses offered on UT Austin Campus


BIO 386: Global Environmental Change

Geography and the Environment

GRG F356T: Clim Chg/Vegtn: Kalahari-Bwa
GRG 356T: Spatial Sciences Practicum
GRG 462K: Intro Remote Sensing of Envir
GRG 304E: Envir Sci: A Changing World
GRG 360E: Climate Change and Public Discourse
GRG 360G: Environmental Geographic Information Systems
GRG 493K: Remote Sensing of the Environment
GRG 396T: End of Nature

LBJ School of Public Affairs

PA 388K: Topics in Sustainable Development
PA 388K: Solving Environmental Problems
PA 682GA: Urban Resilience to Climate Change Challenges in Africa
PA 188G: Carbon Finance
PA 388K: Carbon-based Energy in the 21st Century
PA 682GB: Climate Change (focus on Africa)
PA 388K: Development within a Low Carbon World
PA 693L: Environmental Economics
PA 682GA: International Development Aid for Climate Change Adaptation in Africa


PHL 325C: Environmental Ethics


397S: Environment Litigation
397S: Solving Environmental Problems
341L: Environmental Law: Air & Water
241L: Environmental Law: Toxics
S179M: Climate Change Law & Policy


COM 370: Communicating about Science and the Environment


ARC 386M: Climate Change and Cultural Theory


CE 394K: GIS in Water Resources - D. Maidment
CE 394K: Surface Water Hydrology - D. Maidment
CE 385D: Water Resources Planning & Management - D. McKinney
CE 380S: Environmental Fluid Mechanics - B. Hodges
CE 385S: Stochastic Hydrology - P. Passalacqua
CE 396L: Air Pollution Engineering - K. Kinney


SSC 374C/394C: Parallel Computing for Science and Engineering - Victor Eijkhout and Kent Milfeld
SSC 386D: Monte Carlo Methods in Statistics - Peter Mueller
SC 394E: Visualization and Data Analysis for Science and Engineering
SSC 394: Scientific and Technical Computing
EER 396: Seminar in Energy and Earth Resources
PhD Student Opportunity in Climate Research (Graduate)
A PhD student is recruited to conduct modeling and observational study of Pacific decadal variability and its relation to decadal modulations of El Nino-Southern Oscillation at the University of Texas at Austin. Background in oceanic and atmospheric sciences is preferred but not required. General information on the graduate program at the UT's Jackson School of Geosciences can be found at The deadline for Fall 2014 application is January 1st, 2014. Interested candidate should contact Yuko M. Okumura ( for more information.
Posted by: Yuko Okumura

Ph.D. Students Opportunities (Graduate)
My group occasionally has openings for graduate students. Solid quantitative backgrounds with computing experience (e.g. Matlab or NCL or IDL, Linux) and climate dynamics courses are required. Qualified applicants with interests in climate are encouraged to contact me to discuss possibilities.
Posted by: Rong Fu

Undergratuate Students (Undergraduate)
Undergratuate students who are interested in climate change are always welcome to apply.
Posted by: Rong Fu

Aerogeophysical SystemsAerogeophysical Systems
UTIG has developed, maintained, and operated a suite of aerogeophysical instrumentation since the early 1990s with continual improvements since inception. The suite was installed aboard a Dehavilland DHC-6 ("Twin Otter") up to 2005 and aboard a Basler BT-67 (a version of DC-3T -- a Douglas DC-3 refitted with turboprop engines) since 2008. The current instruments are: High Capability Radar Sounder (HiCARS); Multibeam, Scanning Photon Counting Lidar; Cesium Vapor Magnetometer; Gravimeter; Dual-frequency, carrier-phase Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS); Laser Altimeter; Two GPS-aided Inertial Measurement Units; Three-Axis Fluxgate Magnetometer; System Control, Data Acquisition, and Real-time QC and Monitoring functions.
Analytical Lab for Paleoclimate StudiesAnalytical Lab for Paleoclimate Studies
The Jackson School of Geosciences now has four stable isotope laboratories. UTIG Director and DGS faculty member Terry Quinn supervises one of these labs: ALPS. The ALPS houses two, state-of-the-science, Thermo isotope ratio mass spectrometers and an Inductively Coupled Plasma-spectrometer (ICP).
Environmental Scanning Electron MicroscopeEnvironmental Scanning Electron Microscope
Installed in the fall of 2001, this is a 30 kV tungsten gun high-resolution environmental scanning electron microscope (ESEM) with a 3.5 nm resolution in high vacuum, low vacuum, and environmental modes at 30 kV. The ESEM is equiped with a Peltier cooled stage, a heating stage, an EDS sytem (EDAX), a EBSD system (HKL – Oxford Instruments), and a cathodoluminescence detector (Gatan).
HR-ICP Mass Spectrometers
Equipment available: Thermo Element2 HR-ICP-MS with ESI autosampler system for solutions; and Thermo Element2 HR-ICP-MS with Photonmachines Analyte G2 Excimer laser ablation system.
Quadrupole ICP Mass Spectrometer
The Quadrupole ICP-MS laboratory (with laser ablation) is used for elemental determinations in a wide range of liquid (e.g., natural waters, dissolved sediments/rocks, digested biomass) and solid (e.g., rocks, minerals, glasses) samples. The ICP-MS instrument is an Agilent 7500ce, capable of measuring trace element concentrations in solution over a nine-order linear dynamic range, from ppt to 100s of ppm. Sample introduction systems include a Micromist concentric nebulizer with a Peltier-cooled spray chamber for aspirating solutions, and a New-Wave UP¬193-FX 193 nm excimer laser ablation system for micro-sampling of solids. Sub-ppm detection limits are obtained routinely by laser ablation. The Agilent 7500ce is equipped with a collision/reaction cell, allowing for quantification of environmentally important matrix/plasma-sensitive elements such as As, Se, and Fe. The instrument is housed in a positive-pressure HEPA-filtered laboratory equipped with a weighing station, laminar flow bench, and Type 1 (18.2 M?) ultrapure water station.
Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry (TIMS) LabThermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry (TIMS) Lab
Measures the isotopic compositions and elemental concentrations of Rb-Sr, Sm-Nd, Lu-Hf, U-Th-Pb, Li, B, Mg, K, Zr, and REE. Equipment: Seven-collector Finnigan-MAT 261 thermal ionization mass spectrometer (1987) A single-channel ion-counting systems.
Center for Integrated Earth System Science
The Center for Integrated Earth System Science (CIESS) is a cooperative effort between the Jackson School of Geosciences and the Cockrell School of Engineering. The center fosters collaborative study of Earth as a coupled system with focus on land, atmosphere, water, environment, and society.
Center for International Energy & Environmental Policy
In 2005, the University of Texas at Austin chartered the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy (CIEEP), to join the scientific and engineering capabilities of the University's Jackson School of Geosciences and the College of Engineering with the LBJ School of Public Affairs. The University's first center dedicated to energy and environmental policy, CIEEP will seek to inform the policy-making process with the best scientific and engineering expertise.
Gulf Coast Carbon Center
The Gulf Coast Carbon Center (GCCC) seeks to apply its technical and educational resources to implement geologic storage of anthropogenic carbon dioxide on an aggressive time scale with a focus in a region where large-scale reduction of atmospheric releases is needed and short term action is possible.
Land, Environment & Atmospheric Dynamics
The LEAD group consists of graduate research assistants, postdoctoral fellows, research scientists and visiting scholars. We view the earth system in a holistic way, linking the atmosphere, ocean, biosphere, cryosphere, and solid earth as an integrated system. We use powerful methodologies such as satellite remote sensing and supercomputing simulations which are now profoundly changing research in earth system sciences. We place a strong emphasis on the societal impact of the research in earth system sciences.
Latin America & Caribbean Energy Program
The Latin America & Caribbean Energy Program will create, foster and maintain a regional outreach network that will nurture cooperative and frank discussions of issues related to sustainable development of energy resources and environmental stewardship. The network will include representatives from governments, universities, private sector, multilateral agencies, industry and professional associations and other stakeholders.
Remote Sensing of Earth and Planetary Surface and Environment Program
This program will bring visibility to satellite remote sensing research at JSG among funding agencies and peers, and attract students with strong physics and engineering background and interests in using satellite remote sensing technology to study earth-atmosphere processes.

Affiliated UT Programs & Centers

Center for Space Research
The University of Texas at Austin, Center for Space Research was established in 1981 under the direction of Dr. Byron D. Tapley. The mission of the Center is to conduct research in orbit determination, space geodesy, the Earth and its environment, exploration of the solar system, as well as expanding the scientific applications of space systems data.
Environmental Science Institute
The Environmental Science Institute is a multi-disciplinary institute for basic scientific research in environmental studies founded by The University of Texas at Austin. The Institute serves as a focal point on campus for a wide scope of interdisciplinary research and teaching involving the complex interactions of the biosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere in the Earth system, as well as the human dimensions of these interactions.
Texas Advanced Computing Center
The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at The University of Texas at Austin is one of the leading centers of computational excellence in the United States. Located on the J.J. Pickle Research Campus, the center's mission is to enable discoveries that advance science and society through the application of advanced computing technologies.
UT Austin Energy Institute
The Energy Institute has been established at the University of Texas at Austin to provide the State of Texas and the Nation guidance for sustainable energy security through the pursuit of research and education programs - good policy based on good science. The Institute will determine the areas of research and instruction in consultation with an Institute Advisory Board, faculty and staff at the University of Texas at Austin, the private energy sector, public utilities, non-governmental organizations, and the general public. The economic future of the State of Texas, and our Nation, depends upon the viability of sustainable energy resources. The mission of the Energy Institute is to provide the transformational changes through research and instruction that are required for this State's and Nation's sustainable energy security.